During an interview with Comcast Sports Net Bay Area, Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr unexpectedly confessed to Cannabis use and even went as far to advocate on its behalf.
In addition to being a former NBA player himself, Kerr (debatably) coaches one of the greatest NBA teams ever assembled. Last year, unfortunately, Kerr was forced to missed nearly half of the season due to chronic back pain related to surgeries. According to Kerr, he chose to use Marijuana a couple of times as a pain management option due to lingering complications from his back issues.
Kerr’s words, which address the dangers of painkillers and embrace the acceptance of Marijuana, are powerful:
“… I’m not the expert on this stuff. But I do know this: If you’re an NFL player, in particular, and you got a lot of pain, I don’t think there’s any question that pot is better for your body than Vicodin. And yet athletes everywhere are prescribed Vicodin like it’s Vitamin C like it’s no big deal.”
“…there’s this perception in our country that over-the-counter drugs are fine and pot is bad. Now, I think that’s changing.”
However, how does the NBA feel about the topic?
Interestingly, the NBA is one of the most liberal leagues on a variety of topics— although they seem reticent to accept Marijuana. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the issue in a 2014 interview with GQ:
“… it’s our strong preferences that our players do not consume marijuana. We believe it will affect their performance on the court. That said, marijuana testing is something the players’ association, and we adjust to the times.”
It appears as though the NBA is taking a similarly hard line stance to the NFL on marijuana. While the NBA’s stance is softer on the issue, it doesn’t go far enough to give players access to healthier pain management alternatives.
Steve Kerr’s statements seem to be more in the consensus of the American public, and I think it is important to take his comments seriously. As a basketball coach, he has the ear of hoards of parents around the country.
As an NBA lifer, Kerr’s guidance on the issue could help to make the NBA the first Marijuana-friendly sports league. And, as a major figure in California, Kerr’s words could spark even more interest in an already exploding industry out west.
It’s almost as though Kerr had heard Silver’s 2014 remarks, as he continues:
“I would just hope that sports leagues are able to look past the perception. I’m sure the NFL is worried that their fans are going to go, ‘All the players are potheads.’”
Steve Kerr Concludes
Although much of this may seem obvious in theory, sports leagues don’t operate in a practical sphere. They often demand their athletes return to the playing field while injured; and, while Marijuana may lessen physical pain, it doesn’t deaden sensation like Vicodin or Toradol. Thus, Marijuana probably wouldn’t satisfy the aims of the professional teams.
The effects of these policies are devastating to some former athletes. The scariest example is probably that NFL players are habitually taking painkillers and exhibit high rates of drug addiction. Before the NFL started to monitor these practices, “ medical staff routinely handed out the prescription painkiller Vicodin on the flights home.”
While Steve Kerr’s comments are a few steps in the right direction, there is a lot of ground to be made up regarding American professional sports leagues.